Help U.S. Special Forces increase the survivability of Burkinabe Forces in combat
Prior to 2016, Burkina Faso’s reputation was that of a quiet and peaceful country nestled away in West Africa. Ouagadougou, located in the center of the country, was the hub of economic activity and the multicultural heart of Burkina Faso. Different ethnic and religious groups lived peacefully alongside one another for centuries, united in their collective sense of a Burkinabe civil identity. Unfortunately, extremist violence and insurgent activity conducted by terrorist cells belonging to Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen [JNIM], Islamic State in the Greater Sahara [ISGS], Macina Liberation Front [MLF], and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa [MUJAO] have quickly eroded stability in the past three years.
Between 2016 and 2020, fatalities inflicted by terrorist groups reached over 4,000 people. While that figure appears low for four years of conflict, its exponential growth is astounding; a total of 80 civilians were killed in 2016, 1,800 in 2018, and 2,489 in 2020 according to available statistics. Military fatalities have peaked at 1,326 from 2016-2020, meaning that 12 percent of the Burkinabe military force was killed in action in only four years. This has caused the military’s morale to reach an all-time low. The U.S. Army soldiers deployed to Burkina Faso are taking swift action to help their partners increase morale, and by default survivability in combat, by establishing a resiliency program. However, the plan, which includes sending counselors and Chaplains to the remote bases, was in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With travel in the country greatly restricted, counselors and Chaplains cannot reach the most affected soldiers at remote bases. The U.S. soldiers reached out to Spirit of America and explained that if the Burkinabe Chaplain corps had iPads, they would be able to conduct virtual classes with the soldiers on the front lines in the fight against terrorism. With your help, Spirit of America will be able to provide exactly what the U.S. soldiers in Burkina Faso are telling us is needed to increase the morale and survivability of their partners who are fighting extremism during the COVID-19 pandemic.